Husky Football: Position Preview – RB
Husky football season is right around the corner (fall training camp begins on Aug. 4th). As camp approaches we will be going position by position, providing a detailed preview of the Dawg’s roster. Last week we covered the fierce quarterback battle; however, the competition for the starting running back spot may be even more intense. Let’s take a closer look:
Bishop Sankey: Sankey left the University of Washington as one of the most accomplished running backs in school history. His 2013 campaign is arguably the greatest season ever by a Husky running back. He rushed for 1,870 yards and 20 touchdowns, both single season school records. Replacing the production and consistency of an NFL-caliber running back will be a high priority on Coach Pete’s fall camp agenda.
Ryan McDaniel: McDaniel has had two injury plagued seasons and has taken a medical retirement.
Jesse Callier: (5-10 206 lbs; Senior; 2013 Stats: 48 carries, 213 yards, 3 TD’s) It was only two seasons ago that Callier was the starting running back ahead of Bishop Sankey. Unfortunately for him, he tore his ACL in the 2012 season opener. Callier has not been able to completely regain his old form; however, he proved himself as a consistent contributor in 2013. The jury is still out on whether or not Callier can carry the load once again, but he will be given every opportunity to seize the starting spot.
Deontae Cooper: (5-11 199 lbs; Senior; 2013 Stats: 43 carries, 273 yards, 3 TD’s) Cooper has had his fair share of ACL injuries as well. Coop has had three ACL tears in his career at the University of Washington. Much to the delight of the Husky Faithful, Cooper overcame these setbacks and made his long-awaited Husky debut in 2013. Cooper has flashed his athletic ability throughout spring camp; however, much like Callier, it’s uncertain if Coop can carry the ball 20+ times each game.
Dwayne Washington: (6-2 219 lbs; Sophomore; 2013 Stats: 47 carries, 332 yards, 4 TD’s) Washington is without a doubt the most naturally gifted running back on UW’s roster. Washington’s combination of NFL size, speed, and power gives the Huskies an every down threat at RB. As much potential as Washington has, he has been hampered by inconsistency and poor ball security. If he can mend his fumbling issues and master the playbook, expect Washington to have the best shot at starting week one against Hawaii.
Lavon Coleman: (5-11 217 lbs; Redshirt Freshman) Coleman is the wild-card of this group. He was one of the more reliable running backs throughout spring and displayed his big play potential with a long run in the spring game. We haven’t had the chance to see what Coleman can do on Saturday’s, but expect a hard-nosed, north and south runner who seeks contact. This style of running has been a commonality with all of Coach Pete’s previous running backs at Boise State. Coleman is the dark horse of this group; don’t be surprised if he capitalizes on the opportunity to start and never looks back.
Ralph Kinne: (5-10 201 lbs; Redshirt Freshman; Walk-On) Scout team player, don’t expect to see too much of Kinne this season. He will be an important practice player, but not much else.
Shaq Thompson: (6-1 228 lbs; Junior; Played exclusively on defense/special teams last two years) Thompson has been one of the biggest stories this off-season. With depth issues at RB all spring, Coach Pete decided to have Shaq help out at practice and take some reps on offense. What initially started as a move to provide temporary depth may end up being the best move of the entire off season. It is no secret that Shaq was an All-American running back in high school; however, that was high school, this is big boy Pac-12 football. With that being said, Thompson shredded our defense on limited reps throughout spring, and Coach Pete was intrigued enough to continue the experiment into fall camp. Shaq would offer the Huskies a home-run hitting RB who punishes defenses with bone-crushing physicality. Shaq is without a doubt the best all-around player on the roster, and the sky is the limit with his potential at the running back position. (It is important to note that Shaq’s priority remains on defense and his availability to the offense will be indicative of that).
Jomon Dotson: (5-10 164 lbs; Freshman) With all of the depth on the 2014 roster, expect Dotson to redshirt this season. Dotson will spend this time adjusting to school, college football, and getting stronger in the weight room. He is a natural runner who has a knack for creatively breaking tackles. Dotson also has the speed and athleticism to make the jump to the college game.
Gavin McDaniel: (5-8 172 lbs; Freshman; Walk-On) Expect McDaniel to redshirt as well. McDaniel will most likely be a key practice player much like Ralph Kinne.
The running back position is one of great depth and uncertainty for the Huskies entering the 2014 season. The popular opinion throughout most of the media outlets suggests that Coach Pete will use a running back by committee approach. This would entail two to three different running backs equally contributing to the running game. In my experience, more often than not, the running back by committee approach does not last long. Expect one of the aforementioned running backs to carry the bulk of the load by the second half of the season. Nearly all of Husky Nation is rooting for Cooper to be the emerging star, but expect Washington or Coleman to seize the No. 1 RB spot. Also, look for the Shaq Thompson experiment to carry into the season with him getting a few carries each game. Considering the depth, experience, and athleticism, the running back position will be an area of strength for the 2014 Huskies.